Park Theatre

1310 North Queen Street,
Kinston, NC 28501

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

The Park Theatre in Kinston was one of the first shopping center theatres in Eastern North Carolina, having been opened August 21, 1951 under H.B. Meiselman Theatres. The theatre had a freestanding box office in front of the entrance and mirrors on the lower facade, under the marquee. The lobby had a stairway to the left side, leading to upstairs restrooms (the only ones in the theatre) and the balcony (closed after 1970). The auditorium was draped with satin curtains all around, and also had a satin-lined ceiling. The curtain over the screen rose vertically with scalloped edges on the bottom.

The Park Theatre was run by H.B. Meiselman Theatres until 1969 and then by Eastern Federal in 1969-1970. Competition from Stewart & Everett’s newer suburban theatres (the Mall and Plaza Cinemas) eventually sealed the Park’s fate, and it was closed in 1982 when it was operated by Martin Theatres. It has sinced been gutted and converted to retail space. The building is vacant in 2015.

Contributed by NightHawk1

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

cphillips on November 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm

While in high school, I worked at the Park Theater in Kinston from 1969 – 1972 as doorman, concession attendant and Assistant Manager. Manager at the theater at the time was Bryan Mercer, I was Assistant Manager, projectionist upstairs was named John Price. Concession attendant’s name was Janice Hughes (who eventually became my wife) and another doorman’s name was Royce Thigpen – my best friend.

The theater was beautiful inside, mirrored walls, carpeted lobby, sound proof balcony for children, huge large screen, seated around 750 total. We would always begin the movie with the screen curtain closed, opening them up at “just the right moment” when the American Flag would show on the screen and the national anthem would begin to play – another of life’s great lessons, being truly patriotic and a deep-seated respect for our country, our flag and what it stands for.

The theater had a beautiful wrap-around marquee on the front with chasing yellow bulbs – I changed many letters on the marquee while standing on a ladder and my manager was a stickler about making sure everything was exactly centered and spelled correctly, again, a task that would serve me well later in life.

Bryan (manager) was a huge believer in setting up displays that coincided with the movie being played – Herbie Rides Again – we gave away a VW bug – John Wayne movies we had cowboy displays, etc., etc. I learned a lot about visual merchandising from him.

In ‘69, the theater was owned by Eastern Federal, but later was sold to Winyah Bay Theaters out of Easley, SC. Guy by name of Foster McKissick (multi-millionaire) owned Winyah Bay Theaters. District Supervisors’ name was Jim Clark (great guy) who later promoted me to manager of the brand new digital Cinema II Theater in Asheboro, NC.

Should I ever win the “lottery”, I plan on buying the theater property and returning it to it’s glory years… it’s a shame the theaters of today don’t have the glamour and glory of those of years gone by.

RIP Park Theater – you will always hold a fond memory in my heart!

Charles Phillips

NightHawk1 on November 2, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Cphillips: Was Winyah Bay’s Foster McKissick the same one who later started both Litchfield theater chains (Fairlaine-Litchfield – sold to UA, and the second Litchfield Theatres – sold to Regal Cinemas)? Also regarding the Kinston Park Theatre, was it sold to Martin Theatres along with the Asheboro Cinema 1 & 2? I used to watch movies here at the Kinston Park Theatre in the mid-1970s and don’t remember who ran it at that time. I always thought that this Park Theatre was a Stewart-Everett house after 1977 (S&E bought the old Trans-Lux Inflight Cinema at Kinston Plaza in 1975 and did not own the Park at that time).

cphillips on May 3, 2014 at 3:35 pm

yes, that was the same person… he was one of the most “down to earth” guys I had ever met, especially with him being a multi-millionaire. First time I ever met him was at his home in Easley, SC …he was dressed in shorts and barefoot … a far contrast of my later years with Fuquay Industries (Martin Theatres) who had real-to-life bodyguards (guns and all!). When Winyah Bay sold out to Martin, the Park Theatre went with them as well. I remember the Trans-Lux as well… their manager was a good friend of mine … we used to always kid him about the ‘digital’ movie house not being a real theater and it being so “boxy” and small. Not sure if S&E bought the Park in late 70’s prior to closing, don’t think so.

NightHawk1 on May 14, 2014 at 12:17 am

I had my doubts about S&E owning this Park Theatre; I probably confused this with the Park Theatre over in Greenville (which was definitely S&E since 1960, when it was still the State). This Park Theatre in Kinston sold Coca-Cola drinks, whereas S&E Theatres sold Pepsi products. Coca-Cola would be more in line with Martin: both Martin Theatres and Coca-Cola were out of Georgia. As to the Trans-Lux/Plaza Cinema 1, I went there one time only, to see Disney’s “The Rescuers”. I was not impressed with that theater, and neither were my parents – we never went back. If a movie we wanted to see played the Kinston Plaza, we went to Greenville to see it – the Kinston Plaza Cinema made the awful (Pitt) Plaza Cinema 1-2-3 in Greenville look good. The Park Theatre in Kinston was the best movie house in town during the 1970s; the only other Martin Theatre in eastern North Carolina (east of Interstate 95) was the old Paramount Theatre in Goldsboro.

NightHawk1 on May 14, 2014 at 12:30 am

The owners of the Park Theatre in Kinston were as follows: H.B. Meiselman Theatres, ca. 1951 (opening) through 1968; Eastern Federal Corp., 1969-70; Winyah Bay Theatres, 1970-73; Martin Theatres (Fuqua Industries), 1973-ca. 1981 (closing).

raysson on May 19, 2014 at 9:50 am

NightHawk1, CPhillips: I have found the grand opening advertisement for the Park Theatre in Kinston. If you need to see this please contact me at .

From the information that I have found on this theatre the original operators of the Park Theatre were H.B. Meiselmen Corporation,aka Eastern Federal Corporation from 1951 through 1973 and later under Fuqua Industries/Martin Theatres from 1973 until its closing in 1981.

raysson on June 12, 2014 at 10:49 am

Kinston’s PARK THEATRE opened on August 21,1951 with its opening attraction as Eastern North Carolina’s largest theatre…….

It opened with Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner, and Howard Keel in MGM’s great Technicolor spectacle SHOWBOAT…


raysson on June 12, 2014 at 10:53 am

Seating Capacity was 850…

450 seats by the lower row

400 seats in the balcony.

NightHawk1 on September 11, 2014 at 10:21 am

Under Martin Theatres the balcony of the Park Theatre was closed and padlocked. The only reason to go upstairs was to access the theater’s only restrooms, which had windows overlooking the marquee.

NightHawk1 on September 19, 2015 at 9:54 pm

The address for the Park Theatre should be listed as 1310 North Queen Street. It is currently vacant.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater